It has been a while since my friend, Shirsten Dreyer, has posted here and I was so blessed when she answered my request for her to send something for the TT blog. As I read her words below about one of her mentors, it made me grateful for the older men in my own life who have helped me along in my journey. Shirsten’s words about “her Ruth” made me want to say thanks to some older men whom God has used at various periods in my life: Dad, Mick, Jack, Dennis, Herb, Don, Jimmy & Richard are among those whom God brought to mind today. Thanks, Shirsten for stirring up gratitude in my heart today. – Jeff
The Bible study that I attend is working through 1&2 Kings this year. This week’s homework focused on Elijah passing his ministry to Elisha just before Elijah was taken up to heaven. Our teaching leader centered her lecture on mentorship, and that led me to consider my dear, sweet Ruth.
When I began attending this Bible study 14+ years ago, I was assigned to a small group led by a woman who has become as precious to me as my own family. Ruth came to Christ at the age of 40, and she has used the last 42 years to mentor the “young ladies,” as she lovingly calls them, God brings into her life. Ruth is the epitome of the Titus 2:4 woman, teaching what is good and encouraging young women.
Ruth has come alongside her young ladies through marital struggles, eldercare difficulties, parenting joys and trials, job crises, spiritual deserts, and all of the mountains and valleys in between. Rather than beating me over the head with what must seem to her to be obvious answers, she asks me probing questions and prays with me, allowing me to come to my own conclusions based upon Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Never have I feared that I would lose Ruth’s love or care for me when I have voiced my struggles, doubts, or concerns to her.
Ruth has watched me raise my children, care for my grandparents, transition from at-home mom to working woman, consider the mission field, struggle with the ups and downs of marriage, and walk through hard places with a family member’s prolonged illness. Ruth has shared her own victories, failures, joys, and sorrows with unflinching transparency, assuring me through her own humility that I have a safe place to land when I need to share my own struggles. She has cried with me, prayed with me, rejoiced with me, hugged me, lovingly corrected me, and encouraged me, never once making me feel small for my struggles.
As Ruth is now in her eighties, I am increasingly aware that I will not have her with me forever here on Earth. Someday, I won’t be able to call her and share a text from my children or seek prayer for an area of concern. I won’t have the honor of sitting in her small group week after week, learning at her feet as she shares wisdom from decades of walking with Jesus. I won’t be able to step into the presence of God with her as she prays in a way that has truly taught me how to pray. In those moments of contemplation, pre-emptive panic and grief creep in, and I must force myself not to “borrow trouble,” to use her phrase. How will I ever function without my precious Ruth guiding and nurturing me?
Bible commentator Max Anders writes, “When a mentor is removed, everything of God remains.” Therein lies the answer to how I will function when the day comes that Ruth steps into eternity. My eyes are not to be focused on Ruth, but on Christ in Ruth. I am not to value Ruth above the God who made her. Rather, I am to take the light of Christ she has been to me and, in turn, become that light to young women God places in my path. My “young ladies” will become Ruth’s legacy.
I need not fear that my praise for Ruth will cause her embarrassment, because she will surely reply, “I am going to pass that praise right up where it belongs.” Such is the beauty of my dear, wise friend, always focused on the Giver of all good gifts.
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